Best Turntables

The Best Turntable Under $1000 in 2020 – Reviews & Rated

Introduction

Despite the fact that the music industry has changed quite significantly over the past couple of decades and software has taken over in terms of not only music production but music creation, people still love tactile things. That’s why vinyl players have seen a recent resurgence in popularity. It’s also why turntables are still a popular medium of music creators. If you’re looking for a high-quality turntable, then this list of reviews should give you some insight. These are some of the best turntables under $1000.

Reviews

Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Direct-Drive Turntable

Audio-Technica is one of the biggest turntable brands in the industry, so it made sense to review one of their affordable models. The AT-LP120XUSB is a fantastic piece of kit. If you’re looking for a fairly-priced turntable with sufficient features to create well-produced tracks, then this model from Audio-Technica seems to do the job nicely.

Obviously, as with any product (especially a product in the low-end range of music technology), there are a few shortcomings.

  • This turntable lacks bass control, so it might not be well suited to bass-focused producers.
  • And it’s worth noting that other turntables can produce digital copies of recordings that are much better, in terms of quality.

That being said, I noticed plenty of intriguing features with this particular turntable model.

  • The AT-LP120XUSB is a multifunctional masterpiece; it has a built-in pre-amp and even pitch control settings.
  • Given that it offers USB connectivity, it’s a great turntable for a producer who’s looking to record their creations, rather than simply mess around.

For the producer who salivates over bonus features, this is the perfect turntable within a $1000 spending limit.

Stanton STR8.150 MKII Professional Direct Drive DJ Turntable

Stanton is another big brand, so I was rather excited to try out this turntable. As the name suggests, this is a professional piece of technology. It seemed essential to find some high-quality turntables under $1000, and the STR8.150 fits the bill if surface appearances can be believed. Well, this Stanton model comes in under $500, so, right off the bat, it offers great value for money. Given the features that are included in this model, you’d be paying half of what you’d usually need to pay to get a professional piece of technology, such as this.

Still, I was thorough in my assessment of this turntable, and I ensured that I didn’t allow its glossy aesthetic or awe-inspiring features distract me from its cons.

  • It’s a heavy piece of kit, so you would need to transport it in a vehicle from show to show; carrying it could prove to be a real strain.
  • And the turntable might be appropriate for professional DJ-ing, but it doesn’t seem to be suitable for home use; the tonearm didn’t allow for good music playback in a smaller room.
  • Plus, there’s no built-in pre-amp, and that felt like a bit of a let-down after using the Audio-Technica. The STR8.150 is well-priced, but it seems that you’d have to fork out additional funds for added features, and that made me wonder whether it was actually good value for money.

Of course, I’m not overlooking the pros.

  • It’s an incredibly-durable turntable, with a torque motor that could withstand more than any other turntable’s torque motor.
  • And the heaviness is the result of the manufacturer’s mission to reduce audio feedback, so Stanton’s engineering decisions make perfect sense. It’s just not as portable or high-quality as other turntables that I’ve tried.
  • Nonetheless, it includes an adjustable brake speed and removable target light, so I was suitably impressed by the value for money.

Crosley C200 Direct-Drive Turntable with S-Shaped Tonearm

Seeing as this list of reviews is supposed to focus on affordable turntables, it seemed appropriate to test Crossley’s C200 Direct-Drive turntable. After all, Crossley is a brand that’s known for its low prices, so I thought it’d be wise to see what they could offer within a $1000 budget. Well, the C200 didn’t disappoint. It’s impressive! The turntable includes components from Audio-Technica, which was the fantastic brand discussed at the top of this list, so I knew to expect good things.

Pros:

  • Its Audio-Technica magnetic cartridge produces a beautiful sound, and it also gives the turntable excellent pitch-control capabilities.
  • The needle can be updated to improve the device’s performance.

Cons:

  • A slight drawback is that the C200 only features two playback speeds, rather than the three speeds available on many other models, but that might be a greedy desire on my part.
  • At higher volumes, the phono pre-amp can become distorted.

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC Turntable

The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC is, undoubtedly, one of the most visually-spectacular turntables that I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. If you like your gadgets to be aesthetically pleasing, then this is probably the right option for you. Of course, it’s about more than looks. Right? You need a reliable piece of technology. Even turntable hobbyists need high-quality equipment. How does the Carbon DC hold up? Well. It holds up well.

Pros:

  • It’s sleek.
  • Alongside its stunning appearance, this turntable offers damping capabilities to prevent unnecessary vibrations, and I found that to drastically improve the sound quality, in comparison to other turntables that I’ve used.

Cons:

  • I did find it a little awkward to get the tonearm properly set up.
  • And the Carbon DC doesn’t offer as much bass as some other models from competing brands.

Of course, it all depends on your requirements when it comes to purchasing a turntable. For me, those downsides didn’t majorly impede the overall quality of the product.

Rega Planar 2

You might also want to check out the Rega Planar 2 if you’re looking for a high-quality turntable at a reasonable price. I got the impression that this model was created for home-based musicians, rather than club-based DJs, but that’s not a criticism. Rega might not be as well-known as some of the other brands on this list, but I thought it’d be worth reviewing a turntable by a company that might’ve been overlooked by many producers and hobbyists in the music world. Sometimes, hidden gems can be found when you look beyond the typical brands which dominate the market. Is that the case with this model? Well, in many cases, the answer is ‘yes’.

There are positive and negative aspects to this turntable, of course.

Con:

  • Sound quality and durability were definitely priorities for this manufacturer, but the Planar’s dust cover felt a little sub-par, so it is worth noting that there are often limitations when it comes to turntables which fall into the affordable price range.

Still, this feels like nitpicking, given that the Rega Planar 2 had many positive features, in my opinion.

Pros:

  • The Carbon MM Cartridge offers astounding audio.
  • The turntable’s stabilizing feet keep it level, to prevent any unwanted buzzing from vibrations. It’s hard to count the amount of times that a mix of mine has been hindered from an incessant buzzing noise, so I really appreciate this addition.

For such a reasonably-priced piece of audio tech, I had few qualms with this turntable. Rega definitely seems to be a worthy brand that should join the ranks of the other big turntable brands on this list. 

Conclusion

To me, it seems clear that the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC turntable is the winner of this contest. All of the turntables are reasonably priced. In fact, many of them cost less than $500, never mind $1000. It’s not the price that sets this turntable apart from the others; it’s the sheer quality of the product. It’s not just a pretty piece of equipment. The DC performs. Its damping feature gives it superior sound quality, but it also lacks the drawbacks of its competitors. Other than an awkward setup process and a slight lack of bass, I struggled to pick this turntable apart. It’s very professional for the price being charged.

Value Editorial

How do I choose the best turntable?

Firstly, you need to understand how to think critically with regards to music production equipment. Many brands will throw technical terms at you, in order to make their products appear impressive, but you need to be able to decipher the jargon and understand what you’re truly being offered. Most importantly, you need to figure out whether you’re being offered a product which suits your needs. Some producers just want to make something fun at home, but other producers have big dreams of playing shows to crowds at sold-out venues. Which kind of producer are you? When you can answer that question, you’ll know which turntable best meets your requirements.

Why should I get one?

Well, there are numerous advantages to owning a turntable. As mentioned in the introduction, the world of music has changed. People can produce songs with little more than GarageBand on an iPhone. That’s the current state of music. But many people still want something tactile; they want to create music through a more tangible medium than a screen. A turntable gives you that opportunity. It’s a vintage style of music creation that fits into the modern world.

How does one turntable differ from the next?

The reviews listed above should help you to understand the attributes that differentiate turntables. When picking the right model for you, you have to think about the type of music that you want to create. Is it bass-heavy? If so, then you have to focus on the bass capabilities of the turntable or turntables that you’re considering. You have to think about whether you’re going to bring this device with you to live shows or not. Is the turntable light and easily movable? If not, then it might not be suitable for gigs; you need something portable. These attributes are examples of the things that distinguish one turntable from another. So, it’s crucial to pay attention to these things when picking the right device for you.

What’s the best way to use a turntable?

If you’re new to the world of turntables, you might be daunted by the prospect of getting started. You might be fascinated by these pieces of tech but totally clueless as to how you should use one. Well, firstly, you need to know how to play a record on a turntable. I found this content quite informative. It simplifies the entire process for an absolute newbie, and that’s exactly what you need when you feel overwhelmed by technical jargon. If you find yourself constantly Googling terms and getting fed up with the world of turntables in a linguistic sense, then you might want to stop reading about them and start watching instructional videos, instead. This one made things quite straightforward. Dive down the rabbit hole of turntable videos on YouTube because you’ll find plenty of useful information.

Which turntables should I avoid?

It’s not as simple as making a list of bad models. As the reviews should have made clear, a turntable feature that’s a pro for a hobbyist might be a con for a live performer. You have to be able to discern between different models from different brands. Most manufacturers are relatively consistent with their output of products in this industry, so you’ll probably find that you’ll want to stick with a particular brand, once you’ve found a turntable which suits your needs. That way, when you want to replace or upgrade your current device, you’ll know that you can rely on a certain manufacturer to sell you another turntable which will suit your specific requirements.

Are there any precautions I should take before using one?

It is also important to note that turntables are fragile devices. Whilst you might want to start using one so you can create music and play it back through a tactile medium, you should be wary of the fragility of these products. That’s the primary precaution to take. Needles can be expensive to replace, and slight damages or alterations to your setup can massively affect the quality of your sound and end-production. As explained here, the signal is very sensitive, so you need to be careful with your turntable.

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